Ceasefire declared

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 14 Sept) –  Ceasefire!

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari have agreed on a ceasefire effective 12 a.m. Saturday, Vice President Jejomar Binay told GMA 7’s “Saksi” and ABS-CBN News Channel in Manila.

Binay told the networks he will fly to this city later in the day to work out the details and see to the implementation of the agreement.

The ceasefire announcement comes just as the standoff was entering its sixth day.

Some 200 MNLF forces under Commander Habier Malik laid siege on  four later six barangays out of the city’s 98, at around 1:45 a.m. Monday. The MNLF said they came to the city to stage a peace rally and to hoist the MNLF flag at City Hall in pursuit of Misuari’s alleged declaration of independence.

President Aquino arrived here Friday to assess the situation and reiterated government’s stand to talk peace to those who want to talk peace but use force if necessary.

As of Friday noon, 18 persons had been killed – three from the Philippine National Police, two each from the military and civilians and 11 from the MNLF, according to AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, Jr.

Tutaan said a total of 52 were injured – 28 from the military, six from the police and 18 from the civilians – while 20 others from the MNLF were “captured / surrendered / arrested.”

No figure of casualties has been given after Friday’s assault on the MNLF-held areas.

According to the City Information Office, the Crisis Management Center has recorded 6,024 families with 23,584 dependents in 26 evacuation centers. 

The figure includes both the evacuees from Monday and those who were forced to evacuate following the passage of a city ordinance Thursday night, for a forced evacuation in the conflict-affected areas of Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Rio Hondo, Talon-Talon, Mampang, parts of Tugbungan and other villages affected by the hostage crisis and the firefight between government troops and the MNLF forces. (MindaNews)